Reformer Pilates For Beginners

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What is Reformer Pilates?

Welcome to the world of Reformer Pilates! Originating from traditional Pilates, Reformer Pilates is a dynamic and transformative exercise method that utilises a specially designed machine called the Reformer. This machine consists of a sliding carriage, adjustable springs and various straps, creating a versatile workout experience.

Reformer Pilates combines controlled movements with resistance, focusing on strength, flexibility, and overall body awareness. Often paired with supporting apparatus like the magic circle or Pilates ball, the exercises performed on the Reformer engage multiple muscle groups and provide a holistic (and beginner-friendly) approach to fitness. Find out how to get started with reformer Pilates below!

What is Reformer Pilates Good For?

Low Impact

Reformer Pilates shines as a low-impact exercise, making it gentle on joints and perfect for beginners or those with joint concerns. The Reformer’s supportive surface minimises stress on the body, reducing injury risks and catering to individuals with arthritis or joint pain, while engaging core muscles and delivering a full body workout.

Full-Body Workout

Reformer Pilates offers a holistic approach to fitness by providing a complete full-body workout. Unlike some exercises that target specific muscle groups, Reformer Pilates engages multiple muscles simultaneously, ensuring that no area is left untouched. The sliding carriage and adjustable springs create resistance throughout the entire range of motion, promoting muscle endurance, strength, and flexibility.

Getting Started

What is a Pilates Reformer?

“Pilates Reformer” is the name of the apparatus used in Reformer Pilates workouts. It consists of a bed-like frame with a platform called a carriage that moves back and forth on wheels within the frame. It has adjustable resistance provided by springs and ropes attached to the carriage.

A common misconception is that a Pilates Reformer machine will make it more difficult or complex to perform Pilates exercises, but quite the reverse is true. The machine is designed to facilitate better technique and minimise the risk of injury or incorrect form.

Get to know REFORMER

Choosing a Reformer Studio

Finding a reformer studio that’s right for you is essential! When our clients visit our studios, they’re often after a relaxing space that is accepting is everyone – regardless of experience levels. We highly recommend trying a studio out before committing every week.

Dress Comfortably

Wear comfortable, form-fitting clothing that allows for a full range of motion. This also allows the instructor to closely watch your form and correct it if needed. Grip socks are also highly recommended to provide traction on the Reformer carriage.

Chat with a Certified Pilates Instructor

If you’re new to Reformer Pilates, we’ll often advise our clients to pop into the studio a little bit earlier than their first scheduled class. This ensures that the instructor can discuss any pre-existing injuries and your experience level, and also walk you through the reformer bed.

Reformer Pilates Fundamentals


Controlled and intentional breathing is pivotal during reformer Pilates exercises. Similarly to practising yoga, your breath in Pilates is considered the link between the mind and body, facilitating fluidity and encouraging a sense of calm. Allow yourself to inhale deeply through the nose to expand the ribcage, and exhale fully through pursed lips. 

Core Engagement

Core engagement is the powerhouse behind every movement in Reformer Pilates, playing a pivotal role in achieving strength, stability, and overall body control. While most reformer Pilates exercises involve some form of core engagement, moves such as reverse crunches, the hundred, leg circles, or planks are amazing for strengthening your core.

Basic Reformer Exercises

Reformer exercises can be adapted to suit any experience level and not only provide a low-impact workout for your entire body but also help with injury prevention, improved moods, strength building and more. 

A beginner Pilates reformer workout might include some of the following exercises. (Bear in mind, most Reformer workouts can be adapted to suit your experience levels with the help of your Pilates instructor). 

Reformer Footwork

This exercise focuses on the lower body. It involves pushing the carriage in and out using your feet while lying on your back. Variations include different foot positions like parallel, heels together toes apart, etc.

Leg Circles

While lying on your back, you move one leg in circular motions while keeping the other stable, engaging core muscles to stabilise the pelvis.

The Hundred

This exercise involves pumping your arms while holding them straight above the carriage and lifting your head and shoulders off the platform while your legs are in a tabletop position, engaging the core.

Long Stretch

Similar to a push-up motion, this exercise involves moving the carriage back and forth while in a plank position, focusing on core stability and upper body strength.

Short Box Series

This includes various exercises performed while seated on a box placed on the carriage. Movements may involve spinal flexion and extension, rotation, and side bending.


Lying on your stomach, holding onto the straps, you perform a motion that mimics a swimming backstroke, engaging the back and shoulder muscles.

Side Splits

Sitting sideways on the carriage with one foot on the platform and the other on the foot bar, you push the carriage out and in, working on inner and outer thigh muscles.


In a pike position, hands on the foot bar and feet on the carriage, you push the carriage in and out while keeping the hips lifted, working on core strength and hamstring flexibility.

Reformer Pilates FAQ’s

How fit do I need to be? 

Reformer Pilates really is for everyone! Whether you’re fresh to the scene or you’ve been practising for years, the instructor will provide optional progressions to each movement they direct and allow all experience levels to get the most out of the class.

How does the equipment work? 

Whilst the reformer bed can look intimidating to start with, we promise it’s a lot easier to maneuver than you think. Once you’ve been given an initial run-down by the instructor before your first class, you’ll begin to feel more and more confident each class. Everyone was a newbie at some stage!

When will I start to notice results?

Results are an incredibly subjective goal for all, so it can be hard to put a timeframe on “results”. Some clients participate in reformer Pilates for their mental well-being, whilst others seek physical improvements like increased strength or decreased joint pain. With consistency and correct technique guided by an experienced Pilates instructor, Pilates reformer workouts will make you feel stronger within a matter of weeks. 

How is Reformer Pilates different to Mat Pilates?

Both Reformer and Mat Pilates offer numerous benefits such as improved posture, core strength, flexibility, and muscle tone. The choice between attending a reformer or mat class often depends on personal preferences, fitness goals, and accessibility to equipment or classes. Some people might enjoy the variety and support of the Reformer, while others prefer the simplicity and portability of Mat Pilates.

Join The Reformer Pilates Movement

Embarking on your Reformer Pilates journey as a beginner is an exciting step toward a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. With the right guidance, dedication, and commitment to form, you’ll soon discover the transformative power of this dynamic exercise method. The best way to get started with Reformer Pilates for beginners is to book a Pilates Reformer class and give it a try. So, put on your Pilates socks, step onto the Reformer and let the journey begin!

Looking to kickstart your wellness journey with Reformer Pilates? Sign up to our exclusive Intro Offer for just $49 here!